The first impression a student or parent has of your school should be an exceptional one — not an endless ringtone with no answer on the other end.
With the help of an answering service, schools, universities, and other educational facilities can improve their customer service — resulting in increased enrollment, students and parents feeling valued, and a respected reputation.
Higher education facilities like Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, VA, and Cambridge College began utilizing an answering service to provide a better, 24/7 experience for students.
ODU was the first university in the country to offer unlimited support for students calling into administrative offices to ask questions, seek help, or schedule a meeting.
Because of ODU’s changes in their customer service offering, they received recognition from the National Association of Colleges and Employers as “the most innovative career center in the country.”
Staff at Cambridge College was blown away by the difference partnering with a professional answering service did for their students and administrators. One professor notes that “[The service] strengthened the mission of Cambridge College to provide academically excellent, time-efficient, and cost-effective higher education for a diverse population of working adults for whom those opportunities may have been limited or denied.”
The benefits of an answering service for educational facilities are undeniable. Here are five ways an answering service can help alleviate stress on your staff and increase student satisfaction.
Never Miss a Call and Get to Them Quickly
As with any industry, there are typically times of the year when a business hits its busy season and receives an influx of calls, emails, and walk-ins.
For schools and universities, this busy time is around enrollment periods.
When students have an issue signing up for classes or need guidance on courses, they call administrative offices hoping to reach anyone who can help. When parents want to request a specific teacher for their child, they call. Either way, when problems arise, a phone call is usually the first attempt at resolving the issue.
Admin, payroll, and support departments can only answer so many calls and inquiries a day, especially if it’s only one person (or a few) per department.
Long hold times leave students and parents frustrated and can lead to long-term frustrations.
Companies — educational or not — should have 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds. After that, callers start to feel ignored and undervalued.
When calls can’t get to administration and students can’t sign up for the classes they need or want, administrative departments will get a never-ending influx of calls. Being able to handle calls and inquiries as they come up to satisfy everyone will help your school’s reputation.
Get Tours Scheduled
One of the most important ways to get students interested or committed to enrolling at your school is through tours.
Tours and follow-ups often fall through the cracks when support staff is tasked with handling busy phone lines and don’t have time for any other tasks.
When students and parents visit your school or college campus, it’s a great opportunity for you to “sell” them on all the benefits of attending. If tours aren’t being conducted and information isn’t getting passed on to students, you’re missing out on enrollment opportunities and sales.
Many answering services can take on scheduling appointments and tours for you, freeing up your staff to spend their time on more crucial tasks.
Send Reminder Texts and Emails
Reminder texts and emails will bridge the gap between parents, teachers, and students.
Utilizing reminder texts and emails means kids won’t be dropped off at school when it’s a holiday because their parents forgot and college students won’t miss enrollment periods or deadlines.
Reminders are more valuable than you may think.
Emails and texts can be used for school closures, emergencies, payroll, enrollment, and letting parents know when their child is sick at school. They can also be used for school events like parent-teacher conferences.
Free Your Admin Staff To Cater to In-Person Visitors
A common problem with understaffed offices at educational facilities is that receptionists or assistants are forced to choose between answering the phone and helping in-person visitors.
It’s challenging to juggle all forms of communication when there is limited staff or inefficient processes in place.
Students are filtering through administrative offices and professors’ offices at universities all day to ask questions, get help with assignments, or seek financial assistance options. If one or a few people are responsible for greeting visitors and answering phone calls and emails, someone is going to get neglected.
Leveraging an answering service or call center to help with your phone calls will free up your admin staff to greet and help in-person visitors; it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Record All Calls
Most answering services provide stats, data, and transcripts of calls. By hiring an answering service, you’ll learn what common calls your school is receiving and be able to address them in other ways.
When you know frequently asked questions or common issues arising with enrollment, you can utilize the information to update websites, landing pages, and advertising collateral. Using this information for your website marketing materials will enable students and parents to find information by themselves, freeing up time for your staff to get to tasks other than answering phones all day and answering the same questions.
Recording calls will also let you see where you’re falling short with your customer service.
Are callers on hold for more than 30 seconds? Are the people answering the phone able to answer the callers’ questions fully?
Learning from mistakes and seeing where you’re doing well will help you offer a better service to students and parents.
Hire an Answering Service for Your School
An answering service is a low-cost and highly effective way to take secretarial and administrative duties off your staff, enabling them to tend to in-person visitors and other important tasks so that no job or person gets overlooked.
By outsourcing help, your school or university will be able to handle the influx of calls, schedule tours, send reminders, and record data.
To find A Better Answer and the right call center for you, here are things to look for in an answering service partner.